OTTAWA, Ontario, February 20, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A bill that calls for the Government of Canada to establish a federal framework for suicide prevention passed in the House of Commons last week by a vote of 285 to three.
Bill C-300, brought forward by Harold Albrecht (MP) Kitchener-Conestoga as a private member’s bill, is now at its second reading.
The bill, tabled last September, would require the federal government to recognize suicide as a public health issue, provide guidelines to improve public awareness of suicide, disseminate information about suicide and suicide prevention, make available to the public statistics about suicide and related risk factors, define best practices for the prevention of suicide, promote the use of evidence-based practices for the prevention of suicide, and report back to Parliament at defined intervals regarding its progress.
According to Statistics Canada, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the country, with approximately 3,600 Canadians committing suicide every year. According to the Canadian Psychiatric Association, suicide is the second leading cause of death among Canadians aged 15 to 24.
“We need to do more to protect the sacred gift of human life, and I believe that all human life is sacred,” Albrecht told the House of Commons just before the vote.
“I will stand for the protection and preservation of the dignity of all human life well after others may have decided that a specific life is no longer worth the extra effort, the extra care, or the extra protection in late senior years.”
Alex Schadenberg, directory of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition applauded Albrecht’s efforts to “create greater awareness of the need for the Canada’s federal government to take a larger role in the prevention of suicide”.
Social science researcher Jack Hicks told CBC News that the bill is a step in the right direction for the country since Canada is one of the only developed countries without a national suicide prevention strategy in place.
“My hope is that everything this bill mentions will be done as quickly as possible, as effectively as possible, and Canada goes into catch-up mode,” he said.
Your Life Counts founder Rory Butler called the bill’s passage a “victory” for the people and organizations over the years who have “worked tirelessly across Canada towards establishing a national framework for suicide prevention.”
“Let us not forget the immense human cost and suffering that continues each and every second as families devasted (sic) by their loss of a loved one seek to find hope and meaning for their future. May they find hope and know that they are not alone and that this victory is also theirs – as hollow as the victory may seem for them, let this new and exciting step forward be a good thing that has come out of the pain and the suffering.”
The bill’s passage comes at the same time as a British Columbia judge weighs the merits of the Carter case in which Gloria Taylor, a 63-year-old woman who suffers from Lou Gehrig’s disease, is seeking to have Canada’s laws against assisted suicide overturned.
Michele Boulva, director of Catholic Organization for Life and Family, told The BC Catholic that she hopes “all Canadians will realize the contradiction there would be in eventually legalizing assisted suicide and euthanasia while at the same time trying to prevent suicide through a bill like this.”
Bill C-300 will now move to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health for further debate. It is expected to return to parliament for its final reading sometime later this year.